Vauxhall Victor FB and VX4/90

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Vauxhall Victor FB and VX4/90

1961 - 1964
United Kingdom
4 cyl. SOHC
83/104 bhp
4 spd.manual
Top Speed:
76.2 mph / 122.6 km/h
Number Built:
328,640 (all models)
2 star
Vauxhall Victor FB and VX4/90
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2


The cleaner styled FB ran from 1961 until 1964. It was widely exported, though sales in the US ended after 1961 when Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick came up with home-grown compact models of their own. Consequently, the FB only achieved sales of 328,000 vehicles by the time it was replaced in 1964.

The body styling owed nothing to any US GM influence, the flat front and turtle-deck rear resembling some older US Fords. Mechanically, the main change was the option of a 4-speed all synchromesh transmission with floor change but the previously used 3-speed column change unit was still fitted as standard.

The engine was also revised with higher compression ratio and revised manifolding increasing the power output to 49.5 bhp (37 kW; 50 PS). In September 1963 the engine was enlarged from 1508cc to 1594cc. The increased engine capacity coincided with a further increase in the compression ration of the standard engine from 8.1:1 to 8.5:1, reflecting the continuing increase the average octane level of "premium grade" fuel (on which the Victor unit had by now standardised) offered in the UK, now to 97 (RON).

1963 Victors on the Road

Most car journalists agreed - the most outstanding attributes of Vauxhalls were their very high standard of finish and impressively increased low and medium-speed torque. The four-cylinder engine on the Victor, always a good puller, was even better from 1963 on with a bonus of an extra 100cc. All models, including the wagon, could cruise quietly at 70-75 mph., and peak at a maximum of around 85.

1963 was also the year when front disc brakes with larger 14 inch (360mm) wheels became an option. Models with the larger engine had a revised frontal treatment with a block style grille element and revised parking lights at either lower extreme of the grille. A Vynide covered bench front seat was standard on the base model and Super Victor but individual seats were standard on the De Luxe and optional on the lower priced cars.

Other options included the heater, fog lamps, radio, screen washers, reversing light and seat belts. The FB was the first Victor to spawn a sporty VX4/90 derivative A 1508cc "Super" version was tested by the British The Motor magazine in 1961 and was found to have a top speed of 76.2 mph (122.6 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 22.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.2 miles per imperial gallon (8.77 litres/100 km; 26.8 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £798 including taxes of £251.

The wagons, with their greater area of panel-work, tended to boom a little at about 75 mph., but there was no doubt that performance, comfort, and quietness of running were exceptional for a 1.6-litre car of its time, type and price. And it was the wagons, with their heavy-duty springing set-up, were considered by most to be the best-handling cars in the entire Victor range. The Victor sedans had a softer suspension setup for the UK and some other markets, but Australian cars had a heavy-duty setup Handling was good, but it must be borne in mind that there was a live rear axle, and well-damped as it was, it still made its presence known when driving fast over poor surfaces.

Inside the Victor

Inside the Victor featured the then latest plastic upholstery which, judged on the tastes of the day, looked good however it was much better suited to the UK than here in Australia, where the surface would become sticky pretty quickly once the mercury started to rise. Thankfully the ventilation was good, and patent Vauxhall seat adjustment (the locating washers could be moved around to supply different heights and rakes) provided a good driving position for most shapes and sizes.

The de luxe was a most luxurious vehicle with deep, well-shaped leather bucket seats and polished walnut fascia. It was the most comfortable car in the 1.6-litre range - including the VX 4/90 (detailed below) - and provided an easier drive thanks to the more powerful engine. The drum brakes were powerful enough, although they required a fair amount of pedal effort, but disc brakes were available at a small extra cost. The optional floor-shift four-speed gearbox was delightful and lightning-quick to operate, but the old G.M. moan was there in second and third. Third-speed maximum was, we are told, around 65 m.p.h. on the four-speed Victors.

The three-speed models moaned perhaps a little more than the four-speeders in the in-directs, but the steering column change was first-class, and somehow, with the excellent low and medium-speed pulling characteristics, these seemed lazier cars to drive. They would hang on top right down to 10 m.p.h. and then, although the engine was understandably a bit dead at that speed, would pull away without snatching or pinging. The three-speed Super would do the 0 to 50 mph sprint in 14.5 seconds and a 30-50 in top in 11 seconds. Second gear max. was about 50 mph. Forty to 60 would take the same time, both useful performance figures. The four-speed de luxe Victor would move from 0-50 in 12.5 sec. and from 0-60 in 16.

Star performer of the range was, of course, the VX 4/90, and since this model also received the new engine it would easily exceed 90 mph. Performace wise, it would pull 0-50 in 10.5sec, and 0-60 in 14.5. The gear-change of the four-speed floor-shift needed a little care from first to second (owners have told us it was necessary to keep the lever hard over to the left) but the synchromesh, they said, was like oiled silk. The servo-assisted disc (front) brakes were immense and required only a caress on the pedal. Fade was absent. The separate front seats were deep and comfortable, but the plastic cloth, again, was prone to become sticky when hot and was not ideal for Australia.

The Vauxhall VX4/90

A sporty derivative was available, the potent VX4/90. It had an over 90 m.p.h. turn of speed and handling qualities equal to those of the top Continental cars of the era. The engine had been worked over, raising the power output to 81 b.h.p., an increase of over 40 per cent. A new high compression alloy head, twin carburetters, big valves, improved porting and a hotter camshaft comprised the main engine modifications, though considerable attention has also been paid to engine longevity.

An excellent four-speed gearbox - arguably the best to be found on a British car from the era - was a feature of the VX4/90. Efficient synchromesh was provided on all four forward ratios. The movement between the various ratios was short, and the lever had a pleasantly positive feel. To cope with the great increase in performance, the suspension was stiffened both front and rear, giving the car first class roadability without detracting from the ride. On bad surfaces the (then considered luxury upholstered) seats were able to absorb any bumps which the suspension couldn't handle, while road testers noted a marked- freedom from roll or pitching - which would have made the VX4/90 a safe and controllable car to drive fast - although a long way of todays standards.

Light, accurate steering and powerful brakes (power assisted with discs at the front) contributed to the high safety factor when cruising at 70-80 m.p.h., a speed well within the capabilities of the car. The driving position was good, visibility excellent in all directions, and the controls were sensibly placed. The interior was a delight to all lovers of good workmanship. Comfortable bucket seats, a wide range of instruments, including a rev. counter, heavily carpeted floors and a really high standard of finish made this one of the most attractive of compact sedans then on the market.

So far as sheer performance went, the 4/90 was among the best in its class. The top speed - 90 - may not have been sensationally high, but the car would hold an indicated 80 for long periods, the engine turning over at about 4000 r.p.m. at this speed. Fuel consumption was around the 27 m.p.g. mark - not too shabby! Externally, the VX4/90 was little different from the Victor, the main points of identification being a new grille, a contrasting side flash, additional wheel trims and a different tail lamp assembly. When introduced to the Australian market, it sold for £1330.

Vauxhall VictorVX4/90 Quick Specifications:

Identification: VX4/90 fitted with twin carburettor, high compression, engine giving 71 bhp (53 kW; 72 PS) and servo assisted brakes. Externally the car can be distinguished from the standard car by a coloured stripe down the side, revised grille and larger tail-light clusters. These cosmetic features were essentially similar to the Canadian market only Envoy models. The 4/90 was not available with estate/wagon car body.
Engine: Cylinders: 4. Bore: 79.4 mm. Stroke: 76.2 mm. Capacity: 1503cc. Compression ratio: 9.3 to 1. Valve gear: OHV. Maximum b.h.p.: 31 at 5200 r.p.m. carburetter: Twin Zenith. Oil filter: Pull flow. Petrol tank: 10 gallons.
Transmission: Clutch: Single plate. 8 inch diam. Ratios: 1st. 3.29:1; 2nd 2.13:1; 3rd, 1.36:1: 4th. direct. Propeller shaft: Open: Final drive: Hypoid. Top gear m.p.h. at 1000 r.p.m.: 20.
Suspension: Front: Coil springs and wishbones. Anti-roll bar. Rear: Semi-elliptic leaf springs. Spring dampers: Telescopic front and rear.
Steering: Turning circle: 34 ft. Steering gear: Turns of steering wheel (lock to lock), 3.5.
Brakes: Hydraulic with Servo assistance. Front. disc; Rear, drum.
Dimensions: Wheelbase: 8 ft. 4 ins. Length: 14 ft. 5 ins. Width: 5 ft. i ins. Height: 4 ff. 8 ins. Ground clearance: 7 ins. Track: Front, 4 ft. 3 ins. Rear, 4 ft. 2'b ins. Weight distribution: Front-rear. 55/45. Weight: 20 cwt.
Wheels: 14 inch. Tyres: 5.60 x 14. Pressures: Front. 26 p.s.i.; rear, 26 p.s.i.
Interior: Door actuated courtesy light: Glove box. Door pulls. Twin sun visors. Ashtrays: Front and Rear. Padded facia panel. Front-hinged doors. Armrests Front and Rear. Windscreen washers. Instruments: Speedometer, mileage and trip recorders, rev counter, ammeter, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, heat gauge.
Performance: Speed in gears: 1st. 30 m.p.h,: 2nd 49 m.p.h.: 3rd, 78 m.p.h.: 4th, 90 m.p.h. Acceleration times from rest: 0-30 4 3 sees. 0-40, 7.4 sees. 0-50, 10.3 sees, b-60 15.0 sees. Acceleration from constant speeds - 10-30 m.p.h.: 3rd, 6.9 sees. 40-60- 4th' 11.6: 3rd, 7.3 sees. 30-50 : 4th, 11.8; 3rd' 7.1 sees. 40-60: 4th, 11.3; 3rd, 7.7 sees Standing Quarter-mile: 20 sees. Fuel consumption approx 27 m.p.g. Touring range: 270 miles. Fuel tank capacity: 10 gallons.

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